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Ooh, Sick Burr-n


It’s rare to find a dog as crazy as Lucy, so when we did, we made sure to make that dog feel welcome and loved at our house.  This delightful furball is named Olive and she loves to come over and have her head inside of Lucy’s mouth.  She barks and runs around like crazy, and Lucy welcomes her with some unladylike hip flexor exercises.  It’s mayhem and it’s quite delightful.   And because it’s fall, and it’s burr season, I decided to do some weeding today to save Olive from any unfortunate incidents with burrs.  Lucy too – she recently had two in her tail and she wagged them into Jack’s lip so let’s just say that getting rid of this plant from our yard was going to benefit everybody.

But wait, back it up, beep beep beep.  Why was I gardening on a Tuesday in the middle of the day?  Well, if you don’t know already, I quit my job at the beginning of the summer to regain my sanity and spend some time with the kids.  I also thought I could use the extra 80 hours a week of not working to bust out my book that I have been working on at the rate of one paragraph a year for ten years.   How is that going you ask?  The kids are happy, I am not super worried about dying from a stress induced heart attack anymore, I’ve read a lot, I work out,  I have been writing a bit.  There have been meals prepared, and vacations have been taken.  It’s been good!  But my book is in a blah phase where I don’t feel like working on it.  It turns out that when I don’t use my sleeping time for working out and reading, I get a normal amount of sleep, but there doesn’t seem to be that much extra time in the day.   Last  year, I just removed burrs from the dog as they came into the house.  This year, I spent half an hour trying to dig out the plant with the burrs.  I got about 10 inches down into the soil and the root was still bigger around than my arm.   I got rid of the plant and a solid 10 inches of root, but what did that buy me? It will be back.  It always comes back.

I’ll tell you what it bought me, it bought me a head full of burrs.  I was going to include a picture here, but you can imagine.  Picture a dog with burrs in it’s fur, and then picture me, with my long and glorious and expensive hair.  You cut the burrs out of your dogs hair right?  Well I painstakingly removed each individual hair from the tangle.  This happened moments after I said, “OH NO, I gardened for so long, now I barely have time to shower, eat lunch and get to school in time to get my volunteer badge picture taken before my volunteer time!!!!!!”   Where does the time go indeed.  Weirdly I made it on time, (thanks for making my lunch, hon) with my hair in a bun on top of my head.  (That’s my stylish lice prevention hairdo.) And I had time to get an insane looking picture taken for my volunteer badge.  If you had no backgound info on me at all, if we just met, you’d look at the badge photo and say to yourself, “she has the crazy eyes of someone who just pulled burrs out of her own hair.”

As I detangled and de-burred my hair, I thought two things.  1.) I should just shave it all off now before I get lice anyway.  (It’s that time of year, people.) and 2.) It may be time to go back to work.  I never got a head full of burrs when I was working full time.


How to Survive A “Disaster”

1.) Remain clothed.  I can’t stress this enough.  You may be soaked through every layer you have on, with 2 inches of water in your rain boots, and you might just want some dry clothes for a couple minutes before you go back to your flood duties.  The problem is, every single towel in the house is wet from those halcyon hours (minutes) when you thought you had a minor problem that could be treated with towels.  So when you change into dry clothes, those are wet immediately from your hair and skin, so you take have of them off and think, I guess I have to air dry for a couple minutes.  But people are going to come into your house to help you in any way they can, and you are going to want to be dressed from the waist down, for sure.    In later days, you may want to get back into your Tuesday routine of not getting dressed until 2:00 pm, but you will have learned your lesson early on, and you’ll put on a bra and some other clothes, and you’ll be happy to be dressed when FEMA shows up for the second inspection.

2.) Laundry.  Laundry is a tough one.  If you get a lot of towels and clothes really dirty in a short time, and at that same time your washer and dryer are pretty wet from flood water, you are going to want a plan in place for laundry.  First, say something sad on Facebook about how all your towels are soaked with flood water.  Then one of your neighbors will leave some towels on your porch.  Then when friends come by and say, “how can I help?”  send them home with a basket of nasty flood towels.  Towel laundry is easy, and getting all the wet towels out of the basement is going to help it dry out faster.  I know you are thinking, “Hey – enough about the towels.  What am I supposed to do about my underwear?”  That’s a tough one.  People are going to say, “Come to my house and do laundry.”  But the thing is… no.  You are a flood victim with too much to do.  You don’t have time to hang out at someone else’s house while your clothes wash.  Laundromat?  Double no.  On the one hand, you don’t have to pretend to be your normal fun and witty self at the laundromat, on the other hand you know that’s where everyone takes their stuff when they have lice or bed bugs.  Hard pass on the laundromat.   You have enough problems.  So what you do is, take two baskets of light weight essentials to the dry cleaner to pay by the pound to have them do your laundry.  Then buy socks and underwear at Target.  Those will come in handy when it’s Sunday and you never remembered to pick up the laundry and the dry cleaner is closed.  FEMA and the internet say to get an electrician to come out and check your washer and dryer before plugging them back in.  That is a good idea.  You could also ask a loving spouse to stand close by with a wooden bat to knock you free of the electrocution when you plug it in.   One thing though – check the dryer before you start the wash.  Or get good at googling error codes and praying to the dryer gods.

3.) HELPAccepting help: Practice this word:  Yes.  Do you need help? Yes.  Can I take your kids for 2 hours? Yes.  (Parenting tip:  When someone offers to take your kids for 2 hours,  they’ll see the situation when they come to pick them up and they’ll say, “Grab a toothbrush, kids.  How about we bring them back tomorrow.”  Can I make you dinner? Yes!  Do you need to borrow a fan? Yes.  When someone says, “What can I do?”  That’s a hard one.  Slap yourself across the face and make a list and then assign tasks.  You can do it.   Asking for help is hard too, but you can send a txt blast that says, “I have water coming in two places and I only have one shop vac.”  Someone will come by with a shop vac.  And if they don’t who cares, your basement was already ruined 3 days ago.  But someone will come over and help.  Offering to help:  Are you going to Home Depot?  Ask everyone you see as you drive down the street if they need anything.  Text your fellow flood victims and say, send me your list, I know you were just there, but you probably forgot something.  Take a break and bale water at someone else’s house.  A change of scenery is good for you.

4.) Organized Religion – You may normally not be a fan.  But if a church group walks straight into your house and offers to take your water logged couch to the curb, say “Yes, thanks!”  Thanks Mormons!  Tell everyone how awesome the Mormons are.  When a church group walks down your street and offers to each family free trash removal, say thanks to them too.  Maybe when you get your act together make a donation to one of those churches.   Thanks Cornerstone Church! You don’t have to join, but seriously, its OK to be impressed and thankful that there are really people out there caring for the downtrodden.  Don’t focus on how that’s you.

5.) Adjust your expectations.  Maybe you are sort of a Type A person who hates clutter.  Maybe you think you should just get rid of everything now that you have half the space.  But then you realize that the trash isn’t getting picked up so you won’t be getting rid of anything, you’ll just be carrying it to the front yard.  And man, does the front yard look horrid.  It might take a while, and your house is going to be cluttered.  Take up meditation.  Don’t you have a giant empty, carpetless, drywall-less room?  No, you now have a giant mediation room.  Pretend the hum of the fans is just thousands of monks breathing with you.  (This is not actually going to work for me, as the basement is the cause, not the solution to  100% (ok 65%) of my anxiety.)  Long story short, your house is going to be messy, deal with it.  Or try yelling at your family 0-10 times a day and see if they pick some stuff up.

6.) People.  Some people are going to call, some people are going to help, some people are going to do nothing.  Just complain about the people who don’t call or help to other flood victims, it will make you feel better.  You never know what those other people are going through.  Maybe they don’t read the news, maybe they just found out they have cancer, maybe they have been meaning to call but they got distracted by something shiny.  Maybe they are uncaring jerks.  You don’t know!  Just assume they don’t watch the news.  I heard the NPR pronunciation of Lyons, maybe they think the flood is happening far away from you, in France.  But when you are complaining to other flood victims make sure to only complain to people who had the same level or less flooding than you did.  If you get 20 minutes into a complaining session, and find out your partner just had a tiny spot of water in their unfinished basement that will negate the catharsis of your complaining session.   Conversely, don’t complain to someone who died (obviously) or who lost their house, or else you are the jerk.

7.) Your use of language.  When you say your state/city/house/life is in a state of disaster, and people still don’t seem to care that much, maybe it has to do with your prior use of the word “disaster.”   When you said, “It’s a disaster” do people think maybe its like waiting at the deli at King Soopers?   Do you “encounter” “disasters” on a “daily” “basis”.  (Imagine air quotes here, obviously.  I’m using them like Jack does, frequently and semi-“randomly”.)  So maybe instead of always talking hilariously about the many disasters encountered on a daily basis, reserve that word for actual disasters.  It’s ok to say it about the flood, because The President did.  But it’s not like your entire family died in a collapsed garment factory in Bangladesh.  If your basement flooded and you are a alive and you have a savings account, and FEMA already gave you money, you may just be experiencing a “disaster”.

Summary: Keep your clothes on, accept help, complain to the right people, and be thankful.

Stalking Luke Wilson


I was stalking Luke Wilson a couple weeks ago with my friend Laura. I’m a terrible stalker. You know how the bane of the 2013 existence is the inability to put your phone down and pay attention to what is actually happening in real life? Well… while we were stalking Luke Wilson, I looked around the movie set and it made me think of my friend Brian, who I love, but never see, talk to, visit, or email. In fact, I think he gave me the high hat after I did not attend his fortieth birthday. So I texted Brian to say hi and that I was thinking of him, and while we were texting, Luke Wilson walked right in front of me! So close I could have tripped him. Or poked him in the back or something. Or told him I liked his “movie.” Truthfully, I couldn’t really come up with any Luke Wilson movies except Hoot, which the kids had just watched until the DVD started skipping. I asked Siri for some help while I drove to the movie set, but she just said, “Here is a list of 25 movies that feature Luke Wilson.” But when I said ,”read them to me” she just started reading my texts. Which were from Laura, saying she had gotten Luke Wilson’s autograph while I was trying to decide if I should go stalk him or not. So, anyway, I was texting my dear friend Brian, when Luke Wilson walked within tripping distance of me, and I would never even have known if Laura hadn’t dug her nails into my arm.

I could not figure out what I would say to Luke Wilson, so I didn’t talk to him, but it was nice to stand out in the sun with Laura and txt Brian for a while.

Photo Credit: Laura


Race Day

ImageI’ve been “kind of” saying that I “might” race for about 2 years now.  But I’m not competitive, so why race?  Or am I so competitive that I don’t want to race because I might lose? What was holding me back from racing today and for the past 2 years?  The 97 degree heat?  The arthritis I have in my hip like a decrepit old lady?  All the crazy/competitive/amazing athletes in this town?  Work?  Housework?  FOBSIL?  (Fear Of Being Seen In Lycra?  I wore my awesome Team Ten20 bibs and jersey, but I was embarrassed to be seen wearing essentially the same thing as everyone else there.  I even told one person I was wearing a skirt over my shorts before the race so people didn’t get intimidated by how fast I looked.)

I kept saying I was going to try to get in better shape before I tried to race.  Because arthritis gets better as you age, right? Next year will be the year!  I talked to my awesome trainer about it, and I was waiting for her to say maybe racing wasn’t a good idea right now. But she said, “Why not race, but just go at 50% and see how it goes?”

Clouds parted, the sun peaked out, angels played harps.  DUH!  Why not just see how it goes?  Why did I have this weird idea that I needed to get better at racing before I could even try racing?

Why not try?

So I raced today, and it was fun!  I rode fast; not as fast as I think I could ride, but much faster than I would ride on a bike ride by myself.

It was hot and dusty, but the course was fun.  I plan to race again.

Guess Who’s Back

The answer is: me.  The other night, Luke asked me to make an apple pie pancake for breakfast, and I not only remembered to do it, but it turned out perfectly.  Yes, I did wait until Dave and Jack had left the house for the day because apple pie pancake can’t be rushed, AND it doesn’t really make 4 servings.  (It does, but I eat one and Luke eats 3.)  Plus Dave and Jack were headed to Father’s Day breakfast at day care so…..  So yes, it was awkward when Dave came back home for something he forgot, only to find Luke eating a delicious breakfast fit for a king.

So, what have you missed while I have been on hiatus?  Mostly just this:


That’s a pie that I dropped on the floor after burning my hand.


8470_10151696292266064_95809891_nThese are the faces of three cousins who weren’t planning to get a lot of sleep. Missing are the two cousins in the other room who also didn’t get a lot of sleep.  Aunt Beth got them settled, and then I sang some lullabies and then Aunt Beth and I went out and left Uncle Scott to administer the second and third warnings.  Everyone was asleep when we got home, so it seemed like a success.

Jack has no memory of the time Aunt Beth got up to go to the bathroom and found him whimpering and offered to take him downstairs to find me, or the time Uncle Scott ran into him either.  But around 5:00 am, I ran into Jack and Hope, and she was helping him find me as I was heading to the bathroom.  Jack was upset, the cat was scratching to be let in, and I really had to go to the bathroom.  Jack said, “I had a TERRIBLE NIGHT.  There was a FAN, right by my HEAD.  ALL NIGHT.  A FAN in my FACE!!!”  (Note that there is no fan in that picture.)  I said, “Shhhh.  Shhhh.  Shhh.  Go lay down on the couch, I’ll be right back.”  And I headed for the bathroom.  The door was shut and the light was on.  Hmm. I really didn’t want to go upstairs to the bathroom because it was all the way upstairs, and I feared I would run into a lot of kids that were awake, and it was too early for that.  So, Jack was awake, the cat was scratching and really had to go to the bathroom.  I turned to Jack.  He said, “Blah blah FAN in my FACE blah blah etc.”  I checked the bathroom, someone was still in there.  So I let the cat in.  One thing dealt with.  Fan in my face, someone still in the bathroom, upstairs still too far away.  I started to knock, because some truly strange sounds were coming from the bathroom when there was sort of a crash and the door opened and Anthony rolled out.  He had a tiny table full of legos in there and he was busy building something.   I said, “Uh.  Anthony?  Can I use the bathroom or would you prefer that I go upstairs?”  He said, “Go upstairs please.”  OK.  Upstairs I went.  And then I was on the couch, getting under a blanket and snuggling in with Jack for a couple more hours of sleep.  Really snuggling in, under a big thick blanket, right next to Jack, on a hot summer night.

Jack said, “Ok.  NOW I could USE a fan.”


But we did survive the next day, even if we were sleep deprived.  I wish we could do it again this weekend.

The Guitarist Next Door

My dear, earnest, soulful, crooning neighbor has songs to sing, and notes to play on his guitar.  The music burns within him, and he has no choice but the release the notes, to free them into the autumn air  of his youth.  And it’s possible that he really has no choice but to play al fresco, because his many roommates have probably requested that he not play in the house.  Because he is very bad.  Earnest, and bad.  And I think, because of his sensitive soul, he is dedicated to improvement at times where he won’t bother his roommates.  Times such as 12:30 am, or 2:30 pm.  You know, times when people are sleeping, or not at home.  But guess what, guy?  I am always home.

Yep, I may need to think about leaving the house more, especially since the death metal band across the street started practicing elsewhere, and are no longer drowning out Mr. Sensitive Guitar Playing Guy.

At least when he wakes me in the night, he seems to stop playing after I flash the lights off and on a bunch.  And I have to assume that someday these 70 degree days will fade and it will too cold for plucking the old catgut in the yard.

Until then, there is a soundtrack to my days.


1.) Jack was working on an apology note to a friend after dinner today, (hey he wants to practice his writing, I don’t ask for details) and he needed a new piece of paper from my secret paper stash.  Because I was comfortably ensconced on the couch with my Instyle magazine,  I told him where my secret paper stash is: on my desk.  So off he trotted into my office to get a piece of paper for himself.  There was a load clatter and a yell.  I went in to check on him and he was sprawled across the floor on his back.  He said, “Why did you trust me to get a piece of paper by myself?”

2.) Earlier in the evening there was a loud clatter, but I was furiously making pancakes for dinner, so I barely heard it.  Then Jack said to me, “I guess I know what almost 5 year olds do when they knock the syrup off the counter.  They pick it up, before their mommy’s notice the problem so they don’t get in trouble.”

3.) Jack has an imaginary friend, that is a werewolf.  He is about half as tall as Jack and his name is Dingo.